Categories
Anthropology

Zulu Culture: An Overview of Practices and Development

Abstract

The Zulu remain one of Africa’s most influential and numerous ethnic groups, with their population mainly resident in South Africa, in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Their rise from a relatively insignificant tribal grouping to a huge kingdom was largely as a result of the leadership of their 19th century king and military leader Shaka. As a leader, he was responsible for significant social and cultural changes. The influence of European religion and culture also played a part in changing the culture of the Zulus. This paper will examine how Shaka and Christianity combined in their different ways to produce the eclectic, interesting and robust culture which exists among the present members of this numerous African ethnic group.

Categories
Anthropology

Medical Anthropology Questions

1.This week you are reading about the future of Medical Anthropology. Think about all of the different theories and applications you have learned in this class thus far. Where do you see the future of medical anthropology going. Please use examples to support your opinion.

Categories
Anthropology

“Women’s Health”

1.Do you think there should be a separate category called “Women’s Health”? Why or why not?

Women’s Health is a field which addresses concerns and conditions which specifically affect women.  Because women have different health issues than men, it is beneficial to have an area which focuses on these issues and how they are related to women.  For example, breast health is a concern for many women.  Issues such as breast cysts, breast cancer, and breast augmentation are more likely to affect women than men.  Also, certain hormones and their fluctuations cause women to face specific problems relating to menstruation, menopause, and disorders affecting the female reproductive organs.   Hormonal changes may also predispose women to more autoimmune conditions such as hypothyroidism and lupus.  Women may often manifest certain diseases differently such as heart disease.  According to the Mayo Clinic (2011), women do not have the “typical” symptoms such as chest pain. Women often experience discomfort in the neck, shoulder, upper back, or abdomen.  Other symptoms which may be ignored include shortness of breath, sweating, nausea or vomiting, fatigue, or dizziness.  Women usually have blockages in smaller arteries along with the main arteries; a condition called microvascular disease.  By providing a specific field which relates to women, both patients and health care providers are able to better understand various diseases and create more effective treatment plans.

Categories
Anthropology

Medical Anthropology Questions

1. Do you think there should be a separate category called “Women’s Health”? Why or why not?

Women deserve a separate medical categorization only when it is paired with the recognition of a counterpart male category. There are observable differences between male and female physiology to warrant the usage of biological sex as a consistent and useful categorization tool in medicine. The major problem with this approach is not based on the utility of the method, but instead arises when the groups are interpreted as being related to power. Categorization is a simple, proven, and widely-used heuristic that allows for information processing to be performed with less effort in virtually all learning efforts, but the tool can be corrupted by the attachment of biases and stereotypes. One of the most controversial issues regarding the use of a separate category for women’s medicine is the misconception that the group is a lone division in the large population. As a result, the impression can be given that women are considered abnormal or even inferior if the two sexes are not given equal billing in the overall medical category.

Categories
Theology

Human Ethics And Sin

Introduction

Many people believe that morality is a matter of personal opinion, unlike science, which deals with facts. There are many ethical arguments because some people hold the view that there are no moral facts because values are interpreted differently. The debate has taken two broad sides of subjectivism vs. relativism. Subjectivists believe that humans hold many different opinions, and they do so because it is impossible to prove how superior one moral view is over the others[1]. They believe this proof is not possible because there are no moral ‘facts’. This is resonant with the theory of ethical relativism, that ethical views are dependent on individual cultures. However, there is a lot of moral agreement amongst different individuals and cultures in the world. Some practices are widely accepted as ethical and moral, and others are not, regardless of the culture. Sin encompasses a wider definition, and includes all unethical and immoral thoughts and deeds. Sinning involves going against the teaching of religion and engaging in thoughts and acts that have been forbidden in the bible.

Categories
Anthropology

What role the media plays in the stigmatization or destigmatization of certain health conditions?

The media has a massive influence on modern societies. This power is made possible by the wide variety of channels through which the media may distribute information, including television, radio, billboards, and of course the internet. People are virtually surrounded on a daily basis by media messages from a variety of sources. In totality, the media covers practically every topic that could be of interest to a person, including those that relate to the stigmatization of medical conditions. The portrayal of characters with specific afflictions, the content of news reports concerning a condition, and the availability of media channels for advocates are just a few examples of the ways in which the media can influence stigmas about illnesses. The media has an influential role in the stigmatization of health conditions, but the effect can either be positive or negative depending on the design of the communication.

Categories
Anthropology

Do Native peoples Today Invent their Traditions?

A tradition is a custom or a ritual that is accepted within a specific society or group and is therefore passed down to the next generation within the society in question. Usually, tradition caries within it a symbolic implication or an exceptional importance within a society; for instance holidays, cloth designs that though impractical have a social meaning, socially accepted norms like the way greeting are passed among other examples (Robert, 2008).

Categories
Anthropology

The Mahakala Mask in Buddhist Ritual Dancing

Masks have been used for a variety of purposes by many different people throughout history. Masks are often used to represent deities or spirits; in many cases, wearing masks during certain rituals is believed to allow the wearer of the mask to actually embody the spirit of the deity, or to become that deity during the ritual. This is true in the case of Mahakala, a deity that is worshipped both by members of the Hindu faith and by followers of Buddhism. There are a variety of ways that Mahakala is represented in physical forms. Statues and masks are commonly used to represent Mahakala, and devotees of certain sects of Buddhism often have Mahakala statues in their homes. Masks that represent Mahakala are used in a number of Buddhist rituals, including dances and parades. The following discussion will focus primarily on Mahakala in the context of Buddhism, and how this figure is used in ritual dances and other manifestations of this significant and important deity.

Categories
Anthropology

Foreign anthropologist

Room 1—Description: The first room in the house is a bedroom, which is relatively sparsely furnished. One curious feature occasions especial mention: the walls of the room are painted in the fashion of a great mural, one that depicts a lake ringed about by snowy mountain shores. It may well be intended to represent a lake in a crater. The bed is a mattress, which appears to be of Queen size. There is no bed frame, and the mattress is folded up against the wall, having the effect of maximizing the available floor space.

Categories
Anthropology

Do you feel that the study of explanatory models is useful to medical anthropology?

The field of medical anthropology tries to explain many complex phenomena in the relationship between humans, culture, and environment.  While a purely descriptive approach to analyzing these questions might suffice in some circumstances, explanatory models, with their attention to underpinning theory, are more helpful.  This is because: while understanding facts are important, a model that integrates those facts into an explanation allows us to analyze why certain individuals or cultures might act one way and other cultures act another way.  Indeed, in the chapter on explanatory models, Brown provides several case studies that focus on how they can be used in medical anthropology.  For example, Brown examines the health belief models that examine an individual’s beliefs about health as a main factor driving behavior.  That is, if one wants to understand why an individual behaves so in a certain situation, part of the answer can traced back to their beliefs regarding health.  This is very important in cross-cultural contexts because often times individuals coming from different health beliefs that may or may not be compatible with that of the doctor.

Categories
Anthropology

Do you feel that the study of explanatory models is useful to medical anthropology?

The explanatory model of medicine is so common in Western society that it may easily be taken for granted. While the approach has provided a solid basis for the examination and assessment of illness, it has become apparent that the results of such an analysis may not be consistent throughout societies. The explanatory model usually consists of etiology, symptom descriptions, the course of sickness, and potential treatments. These items are quite expansive and their inclusion in the model provides information ranging from causes to cures. However, when this system is used in cultures outside of the traditional Western areas, the reporting can become anything but standard. For example, Taiwanese explanatory models may mix medical terminology with supernatural forces. This result would be confusing to most Western professionals, but it is completely valid in Taiwan (Shyu, Tsai, and Tsai 1323). Accordingly, while the model is certainly useful, it may be difficult to use in crosscultural situations.

2. While it is important for medical students in our society to learn the science of medicine. How important do you think it is for them to learn about culture, in terms of cross cultural healing traditions, etc. In other words, in what ways would medical students benefit from being required to learn about cultural issues, such as what we are learning in medical anthropology. Should this type of training be required?

As is hinted to above, modern medical professionals must be trained to understand the varying perspectives that are associated with the cultural backgrounds of potential patients. As societies become more culturally diverse, there is a necessity for associated values to be included in their health care. Patients are more likely to personally invest in their health when the need is framed as having a strong value in both cultural and medical systems (Johnston, Vukic, and Parker n.p.). Therefore, medical professionals should be aware of the ways that tradition and beliefs alter the evaluation and treatment processes at virtually every level.

Works Cited

Johnston, Grace, Adele Vukic, and Skylan Parker. “Cultural understanding in the provision of  supportive and palliative care: perspectives in relation to an indigenous population.” BMJ  Supportive & Palliative Care (2012).

Shyu, Yea-Ing Lotus, Jia-Ling Tsai, and Wen-Che Tsai. “Explaining and selecting treatments for  autism: Parental explanatory models in Taiwan.” Journal of autism and developmental  disorders 40.11 (2010): 1323-1331.

Categories
Anthropology

How physical health may be culturally defined, particularly in different societies, an interesting question remains: does the same idea of culturally established notions of mental health also exist?

This is a complex question; however, the answer seems to be yes for two reasons. First, although physical diseases usually have well-established biomarkers (e.g., a low white blood cell count), mental disease usually is diagnosed via observed (abnormal) behavior.  Thus, unless certain types of behavior are universally considered “abnormal” across different cultures (likely a stretch in logic), there is likely variation in what is considered to be mental illness in different countries. For example, western nations (including the US and UK) have a relatively low threshold for mental illness, even including grieving (and prolonged grieving) as potential signs of declining mental health.  There is also a clear prescription for these mental maladies: pharmaceuticals, and for those who can afford it, some type of psychological counseling.

Categories
Anthropology

Health Issues

Health issues in anthropology are usually assessed based on economics, demographic and ethnical variables. From the epidemiological approach through the interpretivist and critical medical anthropology; all definitions focus on the common issues and differences based on the economy, demographic qualities and ethnic origins. Developing medicines and treatments for physical conditions is based on an approach consisting of policies, genetic and social studies. However, when assessing mental health, the importance of demographic patterns increases.

Categories
Anthropology

Changing the Patterns of Reproductive Behavior

Given the different studies within medical anthropology, it seems likely that a medical anthropologist, assessing the great changes in how pregnancy is pursued and achieved today, would be as focused on cultural forces as biological elements.  Regarding the latter, there would be significant interest in examining how modern fertility procedures are affecting basic human biology, and obviously in reference to women.  Human beings evolve physically to meet changing influences, so there is the question of how increased longevity may actually translate to longer fertility periods for women.  The question becomes: if women are living 10 to 20 years longer than did women of a century ago, are their child-bearing years being extended also?  Then, aside from this potentially natural evolution, it is important to note how fertility drugs, etc., may be having a similar effect in isolated cases, or if women using such drugs later in life are altering their own natural cycles of child-bearing years and menopause.